Rating: 4 stars
In the empire of Aramtesh, scent has power.
When disaster strikes and the crown prince lies poisoned, long suppressed rivalries threaten to blow the empire apart. It’s up to a poor village girl with a talent for fragrances and the prince’s loyal bodyguard to find an antidote.
To succeed, the pair must uncover secrets – cryptic, ancient tales as well as buried truths from their own pasts – in an adventure that will ignite your senses.
UK: 7th February 2019
US: 9th November 2019
I was gifted this book from Scholastic UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Scholastic UK for providing me with a copy.
This was such a fun debut fantasy novel, and I am so glad I got to read it early and now share it with all of you! I was amazed at how this book didn’t read like a debut at all, and I am very excited to see what else P.M. Freestone releases in the future, both as a continuation of this series and beyond.
The first thing I would like to comment on is the world building in this novel. There is no massive info-dump at the beginning of this book, you get completely thrown in at the deep end. My only slight criticism with this is that it did take me about 50 pages until I could completely follow what was going on and who was who as there was so much I didn’t understand, but I got through that and it was absolutely fine. However, the world building in this book is incredibly rich and detailed, with the detail especially really standing out. My favourite detail was the use of language. When something went wrong or not to plan there were phrases such as “Of all the putrid, fuming stenches under the stars, what was that boy thinking?” or “Stink on a reeking stick” which really tied in the idea of scent being a big part of their society. I thought this made the book very immersive and I really enjoyed it. In addition to these phrases really drawing you into the book, there are also so many descriptions of scents throughout the book that added so much to the experience.
The plot was also really interesting, although it definitely did not go in the direction I had expected it to! I was a little disappointed towards the beginning as I absolutely love any kind of trial or competition in a book, and this was shaping up to have a very interesting one, which then ended very abruptly so the plot could take a completely different path. The new direction of the plot was also great, but it was a little sad to see an amazing basis pretty much go to waste. However, once the main plot had picked up it was definitely very captivating. It was a little stereotypical in places, just with the time pressure on this big quest, it didn’t feel very original, and a few puzzles were definitely resolved a little too easily. But I still got extremely invested in the story and definitely wanted to keep reading throughout.
The characters also had a lot of depth and development throughout the story. I especially liked Ash as he was a very interesting character and really had a lot of development throughout the book. The main girl, Rakel, was also interesting but did frustrate me slightly at times. I didn’t particularly connect with any of the other characters, but this wasn’t too necessary because the whole book follows these main two characters. I will admit I got a little confused in terms of romance in this book. I loved the dual perspective for the majority of the book, but when it came to the romance it was a little confusing! I think this is probably because the characters were themselves confused, but I am definitely very interested to see how it all resolves in the next book.
As I mentioned earlier, the writing was extremely effective in immersing me in this story, and I think that was absolutely key to my enjoyment of this book. It was very good and didn’t read at all like a debut novel, it was definitely very impressive and captivating throughout.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be continuing on with the series and would be very keen to pick up other works by P.M. Freestone in future. I would definitely recommend this book to any fantasy lovers, especially those who enjoy rich, detailed worlds and a truly captivating story.
– Maddie Browse